Cleaning Recreation Facilities in a Post COVID-19 World was prepared for client Kaivac.
The good thing is that building and recreation managers will never underestimate the value and importance of effective, hygienic cleaning again. For years, the industry has been touting that we “clean for health” and that we clean to keep people healthy.
The role of cleaning in stopping the spread of COVID-19 proves just how true that claim is. Going forward, we will need the help of building managers everywhere to ensure these objectives are accomplished not only in recreation facilities, but in offices, schools, and all commercial facilities.
To do that, recreation administrators may need to update their requests for proposals (RFPs). What’s more, they may need to ask their current cleaning contractors to adjust their janitorial proposals or, if they clean in-house, revise their own cleaning programs. What now is needed in every cleaning proposal and in-house cleaning program is an entire section detailing how recreation facilities are to be disinfected and how often this will be performed.
When you think about it, this has been a major oversight for years. Most recreation facilities have separate sections in their cleaning RFPs, janitorial contracts, and cleaning programs addressing floor care, window cleaning, and other tasks that must be performed on a set schedule. But nowhere is there anything discussing detailed disinfecting on a set schedule.
That oversight must now be addressed.
How can this be accomplished?
In a post COVID-19 world, recreation administrators should require cleaning contractors to include the following information in their janitorial proposals:
- A description of a complete, formalized disinfecting program. Formalized means it’s in writing. It should address all the concerns described below and include an introduction indicating the specific steps the contractor will take to keep your facility clean and healthy, both regularly and in an emergency, such as the one we are experiencing now.
- A summary of custodial worker training programs that have been implemented since COVID-19. Many contractors were caught off guard as to how to deal with the virus, as were recreational park administrators. We cannot be caught flat-footed again, and practical training, outlined in the cleaning proposal, will help prevent this from happening again.
- A schedule for how often the facility will be disinfected. Contractors should have two programs, one outlining regular disinfecting measures on a daily or weekly basis and another on what more detailed steps will be taken on a monthly or quarterly basis. Further, the disinfecting program should begin before the facility is opened for the season. In the future, prior-to-opening disinfecting steps will likely become a cleaning “best practice.”
- An itemized checklist of all surfaces to be cleaned and disinfected in a facility. We call this a high-touch audit. At the start of service, administrators and cleaning contractors should conduct such a review, detailing what needs to be cleaned and disinfected on a daily, weekly, and ongoing schedule.
- A list of cleaning tools and equipment the contractor will be using. Cleaning equipment traditionally is selected based on costs, ergonomics, or how it improves worker productivity. Now contractors need to outline how the products they select can help protect health. For instance, one of equipment have proven valuable in stopping the spread of the infection:
Spray-and-vac (no-touch) cleaning systems, because they can more thoroughly detail-clean fixtures and eliminate the use of potentially contaminated floor mops. Also, these machines have built-in HEPA filters protecting indoor air quality.*
Electrostatic misters are also being used to address COVID-19. These systems spread a disinfectant mist over surfaces, helping to kill all types of pathogens. However, recent studies by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA-US) has questioned the used of these machines when disinfecting. The problem is that the disinfectant is not being used as suggested by the manufacturer and approved by the EPA.
There are even simple, relatively inexpensive items that should be noted on the proposal. For instance, at least one type of microfiber cleaning cloth can be folded into eight quadrants. The benefit here is that the custodial worker can fold the cloth so that a fresh, clean surface can be accessed when needed, helping to stop the spread of contaminants and improving worker productivity.
In addition to this important information, recreational park administrators should find out what types of disinfectants the contractor uses. Cleaning crews should use only disinfectants recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The proposals should also include comments on the steps the contractor has taken to protect their own workers. This includes ensuring the cleaning crew has access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for both regular cleaning and cleaning and disinfecting emergencies. Once again, many contractors were caught off guard, not having masks, goggles, gowns, and other items necessary to clean and disinfect their customers’ facilities in an emergency. In all fairness, so were facility administrators.
Hand in hand with having PPE available, ensure the contractor has instructed their workers on how to put on, wear, and remove PPE properly. Infections have spread because PPE was not worn and removed properly.
And finally, proposals should address two more crucial areas:
- The contractor must prove the efficacy of all their cleaning and disinfecting steps. To do this, all contractors should use ATP monitors. These do not indicate if specific pathogens are present. Rather, they serve as a warning that pathogens may be present, and action is needed. Facility users will want to know you are using this technology.
- The contractor should note if they have a “distributor partner.” Contractors must have an astute distributor partner they can turn to. View these people as an off-line personal search engine. These partners help contractors determine what cleaning products are best to address specific cleaning challenges and ensure recreation facilities are clean and healthy.
As grim as it is, and as grim as it still may be, some good will come from COVID-19. Most likely, a year from now, both treatments and medications will have been developed to help prevent and treat the disease.
And when it comes to cleaning, good shall come as well. Manufacturers have already changed their focus. We can expect new products to be introduced that take cleaning to an entirely new level, further ensuring they help protect human health.
Drew Bunn is Director of Sales for Kaivac, developers of the No-Touch Cleaning® and OmniFlex™ cleaning systems and other equipment designed for infection prevention. He can be reached at: Drew Bunn <DBunn@kaivac.com>
Prepared for client Kaivac
*Spray-and-vac is a term coined by ISSA, the worldwide cleaning association.
**In most cases, surfaces should be cleaned first before misting is applied. See manufacturers instructions.